Freedom, Indiana, has one caution light in the center of town. And many aren’t even sure how that got there.

“The old story is that an Amish person and a man in a horse and buggy came to a halt in the middle of the road without knowing who had the right-of-way ... so they put up a light,” said Sammy Davis, a resident of Freedom since 2009.

Cars race down Harrison Memorial Highway without hesitation at speeds exceeding the posted 40 mph speed limit. There are no police to stop them.

Green aluminum signs line the main thoroughfare celebrating notable residents — James Pierce, famous early 20th century actor known for being the fourth actor to play Tarzan, and Davis, a Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient nicknamed "The Real Forrest Gump."

But the motorists speeding by would miss the heart of Freedom.

They would not get to see the group of men who gather at Freedom Baptist Church every Wednesday for coffee and to talk about everything from the hot weather to the history of the town.

They would not get to see Sara Gomez and her son, Julian, standing on the bridge over the White River on the east side of town using a fishing pole to chase away alligator gar from the turtles in the murky water.

They would not get to meet William Lutz while he toils in front of his home — the same home Pierce grew up in. Lutz, a retired GM employee and horse rescuer, purchased the home and intends to restore it to its original condition.

They would miss the community center, the town’s de facto museum hidden down the hill from the volunteer fire department, which is the home for the town reunion every September. The community-funded center houses Freedom memorabilia donated by current and former residents.

Freedom doesn't have barbershops, stores, gas stations, hotels or taverns anymore. The bank building is empty. The Freedom Convenience Store’s lights are off and its doors are locked. The former dance hall is gone, leaving a peaceful quiet in its wake.

As former resident Mrs. Frank Hasseld Sr. wrote in 1976 for Freedom’s Bicentennial celebration, “Time changes all things. Many people have come and gone and many businesses have long been closed, but memories linger on.”

And, at least in 2021, the people do, too.

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